This week, we’re celebrating women in science ahead of International Day of Girls and Women in Science on Friday 11 February.
Today’s woman in science is zoo-based research student, Jemima Frame.
What is your role at Wild Planet Trust?
I am a zoo-based research placement student. Typically my day consists of animal behavioural observations (normally orang-utans or macaques), where I carry out focal observations on individual animals and note down all of their behaviours as well as their interactions with other animals. I use this data to create activity budgets for each animal and determine their relationships with each other.
What attracted you to this particular field/role?
I am very interested in conservation and in particular behavioural ecology, so this role was perfect for me as it is giving me invaluable experience in both research and applied data analysis in an area which I am really interested in.
How did you get to where you are today?
I studied Biology, Maths and Geography for my A-levels as well as completing an EPQ entitled ‘To what extent does the decline of white rhinos due to poaching impact the African Savannah Ecosystem?’ I am now a BSc student at Imperial College London studying Biological Sciences, so was glad to take up my placement year here at Paignton Zoo.
What qualifications and experience particularly helped?
I carried out a research project in 2017, for which I won the ZSL Prince Philip Award and Marsh Prize. This project involved me designing, implementing, analysing and writing up an experiment to explore how diet affected my cat’s activity levels. This project allowed me to gain experience in designing an experiment as well as analysing the data and writing a scientific report detailing my findings.
In 2019 I was able to spend 3 weeks in South Africa working with conservationists in the Savannah, helping PhD students in their research into hyena population dynamics. This really helped me in understanding what a long-term research project entails.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
Getting to be around all the animals every day and having the opportunity to study animals which are increasingly rare to see in the wild.
What advice do you have for other women looking at a career in conservation?
Try to get involved with conservation programmes to gain experience, and deepen your understanding of the ecosystem by watching lots of nature documentaries (particularly David Attenborough ones!) and reading.